Chapter 1911: Guilt on Her Conscience
Qin Wanru quickly snapped out of her daze. Now wasn’t the time to be thinking about these things! She quickly tugged on Zu An’s sleeves and said, “We should hurry and run away! It wouldn’t be too late to run since the city gates haven’t closed yet.” She ordered Yue Shan to change directions after saying that, but she was also worried about Youzhao. She thought about it for a while and decided to take her along.
Zu An stopped her, saying, “Mother-in-law, don't worry. The matter has already been resolved.”
“It’s been resolved? How was it resolved?” Qin Wanru asked, stunned. The matter was clearly outside her range of understanding. A glorious prince had been killed, so how could anyone just deal with it?
Zu An explained, “The Embroidered Envoy looked into it and decided that I didn't kill King Jin, but rather that his body’s condition was poor, and he died from overexerting himself out of anger. Besides that, they found that there was someone who instigated King Jin to target me as a ploy to weaken the Eastern Palace’s influence. So, the focus has now been shifted to investigating the mastermind behind this plot.” When he saw how badly she was scared, he decided not to tell her the truth.
Qin Wanru patted her chest and exclaimed, “You almost scared me to death! I almost thought that you personally killed that prince from how you were speaking.”
Chu Huanzhao was still a bit dissatisfied, saying, “That prince was scared to death because of brother-in-law!”
Qin Wanru retorted in annoyance, “Is that something worth bragging about? Anyone would be scared of being accused of being involved in something like that, and yet you’re adding more fuel to the fire.”
“Aiya, we’re just talking in private anyway, right? I feel that brother-in-law is super awesome for being able to even deal with a prince!” Chu Huanzhao replied, sticking out her tongue and making a face.
Qin Wanru harrumphed. She then looked at Zu An and asked, “Ah Zu, are you really alright? It’s not too late for you to run now.”
Zu An chuckled, replying, “There's no need to run. It’s really fine. The court session today was precisely to deal with this. If there had been a problem, would they have let me go?”
Qin Wanru figured that made sense. When she thought about how badly she had been frightened, she began to lecture him seriously. “Ah Zu, I’ve always seen you as a mature and careful person, but why did you end up taking such a huge risk after coming to the capital…”
Chu Huanzhao rolled her eyes.
When has brother-in-law ever been anything resembling mature and careful? His lowly and scheming attitude has already pissed off who knows how many people! I get the impression from meeting brother-in-law this time that he’s only become better at that now!
Qin Wanru gave her daughter a look, warning her not to be a hindrance before continuing, “The capital is a place full of influential officials. There are many great clans with powerful backgrounds that can't be looked down on. Having too many high-profile enemies is never a good thing.”
Zu An smiled. He didn’t explain himself and said, “Actually, I don’t need to have many misgivings about anyone anymore, so mother-in-law can feel at ease.”
Chu Huanzhao’s eyes lit up.
Brother-in-law looks so badass! I really like this.
Qin Wanru was a bit speechless. She had never liked how this youngster often boasted even back in Brightmoon City. She hadn’t expected him to still have the same problem after all these years. She reflexively wanted to lecture him a bit more, but after thinking about it, he was young and accomplished, so it was normal for him to go a bit wild.
And he even dares to fight against a prince. What if he gets annoyed at me and fights against me?
She twitched uncomfortably when she thought of that and changed the topic. “I guess it’s fine as long as you know what you’re doing.”
Chu Huanzhao shook Zu An’s arm and said, “Brother-in-law, along the way, if the nearby common people weren’t talking about Violet Mountain, they were talking about you. Some people were even saying that you’ve even become a big official among the Fiend races! Just who is splashing dirty water on you and trying to slander you?” Colluding with the Fiend races was a huge crime in the Great Zhou Dynasty. As such, she was wondering who was trying to harm her brother-in-law.
Zu An had a strange expression as he replied, “That’s actually not slander. I am the Fiend races’ Regent. It's also because of that status that the human side doesn’t dare to rashly touch me.”
“Re… Regent?” Qin Wanru exclaimed, startled. She was so shocked that one could fit a chicken egg through her mouth! She had thought that obtaining the crown princess’ favor and establishing all those contributions, being granted the title of marquis at his young age, was already unprecedented. How could she have predicted that he would have an even more explosive identity?
The Fiend races’ Regent? Wasn’t that someone who was under one person, but above all others?
“Brother-in-law is too formidable! You’re actually a Regent!” Chu Huanzhao exclaimed, so shocked that she began to jump in her seat. Her gaze was full of adoration as she looked at Zu An.
“Do you even know what a Regent does?” Qin Wanru asked, rolling her eyes.
Who was the one that was saying that those rumors of Zu An being a Fiend races’ official were slander and gritting her teeth whenever the Fiend races were mentioned? Can you not change sides as if none of that ever happened?
“No idea. But if brother-in-law is the Regent, then it must be an amazing official position!” Chu Huanzhao replied as her thin red lips drew an adorable arc.
“Look at you, not studying properly in the academy at all and only knowing to play!” Qin Wanru remarked, her heart starting to feel weary. Then, she explained a bit just what a Regent was. Then, she looked at Zu An, her voice becoming a bit more gentle as she asked, "Ah Zu, am I right?”
What in the world? Why don't I even dare to raise my voice in front of him now?
No, I can’t let him notice my lack of confidence! Otherwise, he’ll bully me with even fewer reservations!
I must maintain my prestige as a mother-in-law!
“That’s about it. But the Fiend races' situation is a bit special and they only have the Second Empress and the young emperor, so they need to rely on me to protect their position. My position of Regent comes with a bit more freedom than Regents of the past,” Zu An explained.
“The Second Empress? I heard about her a few years ago. I heard that she was extremely beautiful, which was why she was made the new empress by the late Fiend Emperor. Is she really that beautiful?” Qin Wanru couldn't help but ask when she recalled the rumors she'd heard in the past.
Chu Huanzhao also longed for gossip and asked, “Is she as pretty as my mom?”
Qin Wanru’s face turned red. She replied, “You brat, how would your mother dare to compare with the empress of an empire?”
Zu An replied, “Both are first-rate beauties. Plum blossoms, orchids, bamboo, and chrysanthemum all have their unique strengths. The Second Empress is more charming and alluring, while mother-in-law is more dignified and mature.”
Second Empress, please don’t blame me too much. What else can I say in this kind of situation?
“Aiya, how am I as amazing as you’re putting it? There’s no way I can compare to that Second Empress,” Qin Wanru held her cheeks and said modestly.
Chu Huanzhao immediately exposed her, saying, “Mom, you’re smiling so much the corners of your lips are about to reach your ears.”
Qin Wanru couldn't handle the embarrassment and moved over to pinch her, replying, “You naughty girl, is your butt itching for a spanking?”
“Ah, I was wrong! Brother-in-law, save me!” Chu Huanzhao cried. Her petite body ran rings around Zu An to avoid her mother’s assault.
Zu An felt a soft and warm sensation when he saw the two fight against each other.
Now this is the feeling of home; it’s wonderful.
After the two of them fought for a while longer, Qin Wanru finally realized it was unacceptable behavior. She sat down and sorted out her messy clothes while asking, “Ah Zu, will your identity as a Regent bring you any trouble on this side? What will you do if they take you as a hostage and demand a ransom from the Fiend races?”
As the daughter of an influential clan, the first thing she considered in any situation was whether it would benefit her own people. The imperial court was secondary. Even though the humans and fiends shared a deep grudge, they had no grudge with the Chu clan. On the contrary, the court had tried to beat down the Chu clan several times and almost left them ruined, and the Qin clan was in dire straits. That was why she naturally considered things from Zu An’s side.
“If the emperor were still here, it would have been a bit tricky. But now, it's fine,” Zu An consoled her with a smile.
Qin Wanru was stunned, asking, “His majesty really is dead?” Even though she had heard many rumors before, there was still no public announcement, so people weren't completely sure of the truth.
Zu An nodded and said, "He couldn't be any more dead.”
Qin Wanru was feeling a bit overwhelmed, but Chu Huanzhao didn’t find the subject interesting at all. She asked, “Brother-in-law, that Second Empress is so pretty and she has to depend on you. Did she try to seduce you?”
Zu An’s forehead darkened. He replied, “Is that something a child should be talking about?”
“I’m not a kid anymore!” Chu Huanzhao cried as she stuck out her chest, clearly unhappy with what he said.
Fortunately, Qin Wanru stopped her daughter from continuing her line of questioning. She replied, “What is going on in that empty head of yours? Even if your brother-in-law had such thoughts, what kind of person is this Second Empress? How could she possibly risk starting rumors with a human? Do you think this dynasty’s empress and crown princess would do those kinds of things with your brother-in-law?”
“I guess you’re right,” Chu Huanzhao said, letting out a sigh.
Zu An gave Qin Wanru a look.
Are you praising me or mocking me here….
A young lady’s thoughts moved quickly. Chu Huanzhao’s interests quickly shifted elsewhere. She asked, “Brother-in-law, what is it like over on the Fiend races' side? I heard that they eat people!”
“It’s nowhere near that exaggerated! The Fiend races are actually similar to humans, and it's just that their bloodlines are a bit different…” Zu An said before roughly explaining what the Fiend races' side was like.
Chu Huanzhao listened with keen interest. Time quickly passed just like that, and the group arrived at the Royal Academy’s entrance.
Suddenly, an ice-cold voice called out, “The academy is a place of importance. Carriages are not permitted to enter.”
Yue Shan replied, “Please excuse us; we are people from Brightmoon Duke Manor. Our young master just happens to be living in your rear mountain, and it isn’t too convenient for our womenfolk. I wonder if you can be a bit more flexible here…”
“We cannot make any exceptions even for dukes. Even if a king came here, he would have to leave his carriage and proceed on foot,” the cold voice said again.
Qin Wanru didn’t have the same prideful demeanor she held in Brightmoon City and quickly stopped Yue Shan, saying, “We’ll just get off the carriage.”
The Royal Academy was a sacred place to many, and the libationer was practically a deity-like existence. How could she dare to cause trouble here?
Zu An gestured for her to sit down, saying, “It’s fine. I’ll go and talk to them.”
Qin Wanru was startled, replying, “Ah Zu, don’t be rash! We can just walk; it’s not a problem at all. Don’t do anything reckless! You have to know that this academy’s libationer is a legendary earth immortal, and his personal disciples are all powerful experts themselves. They aren’t people we can offend!”
Zu An had a strange expression as he said, “Don’t worry, there won’t be any conflict.”
Then, he moved aside the curtains and leaped off the carriage. Qin Wanru was still worried and secretly moved the curtains a bit to watch him.
She wasn’t able to hear what Zu An and the disciple discussed, but even though the disciple was still icily arrogant at first, he suddenly bowed to Zu An with an extremely enthusiastic expression. After all that, he took the initiative to guide the carriage inside. It was like seeing two completely different people!
Chu Huanzhao reached out her little head. When she saw that, she said with a sigh, “Brother-in-law seems to be doing quite well for himself in the academy!”
Qin Wanru lowered the curtains and muttered, “Doing too well for himself isn’t any good news for us. He might not even care about our Chu clan anymore. He already gave me a glare earlier.”
Chu Huanzhao was stunned, saying, “Oh, he was only glancing at you. Maybe he couldn't help but give you a second look because you’re too pretty, mom.”
“Hmph,” Qin Wanru said with a blush. “He was clearly glaring at me, scaring me witless. I don’t even dare to speak too loudly in front of him anymore.”
Chu Huanzhao replied with a giggle, “Who was the one acting all mean in front of him before? This is called guilt, guilt!”
“How could it have been as bad as you’re describing it?” Qin Wanru replied, feeling a bit embarrassed. She reached over and pinched Chu Huanzhao's mouth. The mother and daughter quickly started fighting again.
The curtains were moved aside, and Zu An returned. He asked, “What are you two doing?”
“Nothing,” Qin Wanru said hurriedly, sorting out her messy hair. “Did those people let us through because of your relationship with Principal Jiang?”
Zu An replied with a strange expression, “Something like that, I guess…”
“Ah Zu, you have to properly thank Principal Jiang. She was really good to you back then, and she's even taking care of you now in the academy. Even though you're the Fiend races' Regent, you still have our side to worry about. You can't forget your roots," Qin Wanru advised him.
“Mother-in-law’s wisdom is correct. I'll take good care of her," Zu An replied.
“Take care?” Qin Wanru repeated with a frown. She just found these words a bit strange somehow.
Isn’t she the one taking care of you?
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